Be Here Now.
Jan 31, 2020 01:00PM
Mindfulness. It’s a thing. It’s been a thing for millennia. It was a big thing in America in 1971, when Ram Dass penned the bestseller Be Here Now. His seminal book was published two years post-Woodstock—perfectly timed to spark a wave of burgeoning baby boomers and ignite an explosion of spiritual curiosity that is still expanding 50 years later.
I made a brief personal acquaintance with Ram Dass while on my own spiritual quest. We were kindred souls linked by the mystically alluring game of golf. He gave a talk in 1995 at Stanford University entitled “Golf and the Spirit,” currently available for viewing at the bottom of the home page at Shivas.org. The talk was presented by the Shivas Irons Society, named after the protagonist in the best-selling golf novel Golf In The Kingdom, by Michael Murphy.
During this talk, he says, “Golf for me is an exquisite practice of consciousness. If you can come out of the golf game with qualities like equanimity, joy in the moment and letting go of the past… then golf is a practice for cultivating the qualities of mind that in the long run, relieve suffering. It is a vehicle for liberation.”
Two years later, Ram Dass’ golfing days would end after he suffered a stroke. It was several years after his stroke that we had our chance encounter. Our common bonds were golf and the Shivas Irons Society. While in line at a Krishna Das concert in NYC, I saw him entering the side door of the venue and approached. His walking was still uneven from the stroke. He stopped and listened to my introduction, lit up with a smile and engaged in conversation when I mentioned our common acquaintances.
It was no more than a minute; just a brief acknowledgment of the intricate connections that bind us all in the fabric of consciousness—our particular bond being a compelling game that can be a fascinating tool for self-discovery.
Richard Alpert, Ram Dass (Servant of God), died December 22, 2019. You don’t need to be a golfer to appreciate Ram Dass, his journey, or this acknowledgment to a teacher that many of us have known most of our lives. Let us continue to practice and share the messages of mindfulness, service and devotion. And as we strive to feel good, live simply and laugh more, may we do so while being here, now.